Sunday, February 26, 2006

Eyeglasses Case

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This is a project from the book, Fabulous Felted Hand-Knits by Jane Davis. Because it takes such a small amount of yarn, I was able to use up some leftover Noro Kureyon. I'm guessing it was about a 1/2 skein or less.

This case is constructed by knitting a strip of stockinette, working a few decreases to form the flap, sewing the side seams and then felting--quick and easy! One interesting thing I learned from this project is to use cotton crochet thread to baste down any parts that need to be stabilized during the felting process. In this instance the flap was folded down into position and basted to the front of the case. This helped to keep it from being stretched out of shape when it was in the washing machine. You might think the flap would become permanently felted to the front, but it didn't. It lifted easily when the basting thread was removed.

After everything was blocked and dry, a slit to fit the button was cut in the flap to form the buttonhole, then cotton floss was used to stitch around the opening. I may have to redo this stitching as I just realized there is a special way to do it called buttonhole stitch. I just sort of did my own thing here, so I'm not sure how well it will hold up. I'll get a chance to do it correctly soon enough though, because my husband has requested a case for his fishing sunglasses.
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Friday, February 24, 2006

New Web Ring

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Have you heard about the web ring for The Preemie Project volunteers? Jamie has just organized it. Check here for the guidelines. I would love to visit your blog, so be sure to join.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Mittens

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So now you know what I was knitting--not socks, but mittens. Believe it or not, these are the first mittens I have ever owned. It's not very often that you need to wear mittens or gloves down here in Texas, but I'm ready just in case. I hear there is a cold front heading our way in a few days...

Pattern: Mittens from Sarah Dallas Knitting (page 56)
Yarn: Noro Cash Irona (40% Silk, 30% Lamb's Wool, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon)
Colors: 2 skeins of #94 (green) and a small amount of #91 (rose)
Needles: US 2

These mittens are knitted flat and then seamed. I originally thought I would prefer mittens knitted in the round, but I really liked this pattern.

Since I substituted Noro Cash Irona for Rowan Wool Cotton, I had to go down a needle size to get gauge. It was hard to knit this yarn on such tiny needles, but I like the results. The stitches are tight and I think this will make for a warmer mitten.

If you have used this yarn before, you know that the thickness varies randomly throughout the skein from thin to thick. On the first skein, the changes seemed to come at short intervals. On the second skein they came at longer intervals. This meant that some rows in the second mitten were knitted with all thin yarn or all thick yarn, but not mixed as in the first mitten. It had a slight effect on the guage and I had to knit four extra rows to get the second mitten to match the length of the first. So, be cautious when using this yarn for small projects that need to match. Be sure to measure your pieces and don't just expect that knitting the same number of rows will give you a matched pair. I don't think it would matter as much on larger knitted pieces.

Even after that word of caution, I would definitely use this yarn again. After a soak in Eucalan these mittens are just as soft as can be. Can you see how well they go with the scarf I made last year? Now all I need is a matching hat.

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Monday, February 20, 2006


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Saturday was the perfect day for yarning (aka shopping for yarn). Living in the Houston area, I'm lucky to have a choice of several shops, though none of them are very close to my house. But that doesn't stop me, especially when my husband is willing to drive me all over town. What started out as a trip to Spring to check out two shops I've never been to before, ended up with stops at total of five shops! I bought needles from here and yarn from here, but what I'm most excited about is the pom-pom maker I bought here. I make a lot of pom-poms for The Preemie Project hats I knit, but I never like the way they turn out. This little gadget is going to be a big help. It will make four sizes of pom-poms (1 1/4", 1 3/4", 2 1/4", 3 1/2"). The smallest size is just perfect for what I need. I took a break from my knitting today to test the pom-pom maker. I like the results! By the way, I'm knitting for myself this week. Here's a peek.
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

More Booties

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These are the booties I told you about (in various stages of completion). The next baby shower will be for a boy, so I pulled out some blue yarn and a neutral color and tried out a couple of patterns. I left the slipper unsewn so you could see the construction. I think it is fairly typical for shoes of this style. There are no stitches to pick up, but more seaming to do than the other style. It's hit or miss for me when I have to seam the toe, because as you can see, the upper is squared off and bottom is pointed. You have to ease the excess material around the toe and sew into position. I've been known to rip out the seam several times to get it to look right. This one went together easily the first time.

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The pattern for these can be found in Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight (page 34). They are knitted from the cuff down and stitches are picked up along the sides and front to form the toe. When you are finished knitting, all you have to do is seam along the back and center of the sole. I made these with Bernat Softee Baby and size US 5, casting on 29 stitches. The sole measures about 3 1/2". It is for a baby 0-3 months. Acrylic yarn is easy care for busy moms and that's the main advantage to using it.

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This one is from the same pattern. However, I knitted it with Cascade Pima Melange (100% Pima Cotton) and size US 3 needles. The sole measures 3". Hey, this one is a good size for The Preemie Project! Natural fibers knit up so much nicer than acrylic, although some must be handwashed and dried flat. Usually cotton can be machine washed and dried, which I hope is the case here. I just checked and there are no care instructions on the yarn band. I'll have to test it or recommend handwashing just in case.

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This one is my favorite. It's from the book 50 Bootees to Knit by Zoe Mellor (page 96). It's also knitted with Cascade Pima Melange and size US 3 needles. I like the definition the cotton yarn gives the garter stitches. The sole measures 3 1/2" which should fit a 0-3 month old baby. The colors are right for a boy, but the style may be better suited to a girl. Anyway, that was my thought when I finished knitting it. My husband basically said the same thing when he saw it. Maybe it's the lack of a cuff? Let me know what you think. I'm sure this slipper will never stay on. One little kick and it's off, but it sure is cute!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Baby Things

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Last Friday after I mailed in my donation for The Preemie Project, I thought I would begin knitting something for myself, but then I remembered the baby shower I was invited to attend on Sunday, so I knitted these booties instead. They are called Daisy Lace Bootees from the book 50 Baby Bootees to Knit by Zoe Mellor. I needed them to be big enough to fit a three month old baby, so I knitted them with Caron Cuddle Soft yarn (fingering weight) and size US 3 needles. Though they looked big to me compared to the preemie booties I make all the time, the guide on the back cover assured me they were right. I included them as part of my gift and they were appreciated.

Now I can start on something for me, right? Well I could, but on Saturday John took me to my favorite yarn shop so I could pick up whatever I wanted for a Valentine gift. Would you believe one of things I bought was the book Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight? I just can't stay away from the baby things! Of course, I had to try a pair of booties from this book right away. Afterall, there are two more baby showers to attend in the near future. One thing led to another and I've been knitting booties all week, trying different patterns and different yarns. Eventually, I'll cast on that second sock that's waiting for me in my knitting basket and I'll work on some other projects I have planned, but for now I'm having too much fun with this.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Valentine Surprise

This is a Valentine's Day story written by my mother-in-law and published in the 1980 issue of Knitters World. It is a story of love.

A Valentine Surprise
By Mrs. M.H. Batchelder

There are a lot of ways to say "I love you". My friend's husband says whenever she bakes hot muffins for him on a dark and dreary day, he gets the message! My valentine surprise was a little different.

My mother taught my sisters and me to knit. I started around the junior high school years and dragged my knitting along where ever I went. The first real project I finished was a navy blue wool pullover for myself, knit on small needles. It was worn with a pair of old riding breeches. After this, I knit a dainty pink short sleeved job that unfortunately had such a small opening at the neck I could not get my head through it! That was soon remedied by more experienced hands.

The years went by and knitting continued...a wine colored pullover for Dad, a soft blue cardigan for Mother, then sweaters for a very special man in my life who later became my husband. He spent a good portion of his courting time sitting in our living room, holding skeins of yarn while I rolled it into balls. "Our song" was k2, p2.

After this came baby things for nieces and nephews followed by the seemingly endless chain of baby garments for our own children...tiny bootees, soft blankets, bright sweaters and caps. Soon I was making lots of mittens, scarves, hats, bigger sweaters, some with patterns of reindeer, stars, hearts, snowflakes and pine trees. I also made many pairs of argyle socks. Living in snow country, this is the way of life, dressing up to keep warm.

While the family kept growing and we needed more things, we looked for ways to earn extra money. One year, I knit ski caps (called "Fast Caps") for a ski lodge shop. These caps had ear flaps knit on and tied under the chin, with a swinging tassel on the top. I made the caps in every color of the rainbow and they sold as fast as I could get them done.

One other year, my husband gathered Christmas greens and made beautiful wreaths decorated with cones and red bows. He sold the wreaths to stores and inns. Meanwhile I knit many pairs of pastel bootees, packaged them in small plastic bags and sold them in lots to a large department store. That was a thrill!

The year of my valentine surprise, our family had grown to 13 children! We had a happy home, full of love and laughter with a lot of cooking and cleaning and every day tasks that made the days hurry by.

We had a friend who was a one woman knitting machine! This gal made dresses, coats, capes, skirts--you name it, she could knit it! She had an office job but knit during her free moments there and as soon as she got home. She would knit until meal time and continue late into the evening. She belonged to a knitting club and tried every new pattern and idea.

My husband asked this lady to knit me a sweater as a surprise. On Valentine's Day, she arrived at our house with the gift box under her arm. I assumed it was for the children. "No, this is a gift for you from your husband", she said, while he sat there with a big grin on his face. I opened the box, to find a beautiful scarlet cardigan sweater with a pretty collar and little white flowers embroidered all over it. Here it was, hot off the needles. I am sure our friend finished it just in time!
I really was surprised! I love that sweater (sure, I still have it). It is warm and bright and the romance of that lovely, snowy Valentines's Day is still warming my heart. For, when someone you love says "I love you", that is the best thing in the world.

Two years ago when my mother-in-law died, we found this sweater in her closet. It was the only hand knitted item she had, though she knit her whole life. At the time, I didn't know the story behind the sweater, but I could tell it was something special. It was well cared for, having been mended in a few places with a slightly different shade of red yarn and lost buttons replaced with as close as possible matches. Later I learned the history of this sweater and realized she had saved it for over thiry years. It was more than a sweater to wear for warmth, it was a gift of love for a knitter who rarely knit for herself and a remembrance of a Valentine's Day long ago.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Baby Boy Romper

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This pattern came highly recommended by Preemie Project volunteer, Linda, as an alternative to a bereavement gown for a boy. She said it was a good one and she was right. This romper features some special details without being too feminine. The stitch pattern on the yoke keeps you on your toes with many increases and decreases. Take a look at the instructions and you'll see what I mean. The stitch count jumps back and forth all over the place. It was a mystery to me as to how it was going to turn out as I was knitting it, because the picture included with the pattern doesn't show the yoke clearly. I hope you get a better idea from my photo. Set some time aside for this one. It took me about 11 hours to complete, not including the hat and booties. This set along with all my other finished items will be boxed up and mailed to The Preemie Project today. Be sure to follow these directions when you send in your donation. And, don't forget to enter the contest that runs through the end of this month.

Pattern: Baby Boy Romper
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby (Sport D.K.)
Needles: One pair of US 5 straights
Finished Size: 3-5 lbs

I had to make a decision when I came to these instructions in Row 8: K1 in strand between sts. If you follow that literally, you will end up with a hole which will result in a lace pattern like in this sweater on which the romper is based. I decided to eliminate the hole by interpreting this as a M1. It worked fine, but was very tedious as you must M1 every other stitch and this row is repeated several times. I found another version of this yoke that eliminates the hole in a different way and I may try it like this next time.

The stripe of color is worked on rows 33-36.

I hand sewed Velcro to the bottom of the romper to keep it closed instead of the recommended snap tape. I think it worked well.

To complete the set I used my old stand-by patterns for the hat and booties.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dear Readers,

Thanks for all your kind comments. Your notes are encouraging to me and I appreciate everyone of you! I like to reply to your comments by email, but it's not always possible because Blogger does not require that you leave an address in order to comment. So, I especially want to acknowledge those I have not been able to contact personally. Thank you so much. --Tracy

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From your comments, I realize I left out some details in yesterday's post. Libby and Stephanie wanted to know more about the embellishments I used on the gown set. I did some editing yesterday to add that information. Scroll down if you missed it. Also, Sara wants to know what pattern I used for the booties. So, here's what I forgot to mention yesterday...

Pattern for Booties: Michelle's Booties
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby (Sport D.K.)
Needles: US5
Finished Size: 3-5 lbs
Notes and Changes:
CO 25 sts. Work garter stitch rows and decreases. Work a K1,P1 rib for five rows, then work three rows of seed stitch. Bind off in pattern. For a special touch, add a store bought ribbon flower to each little shoe.

Pattern for Hat: Knitted Preemie Hat
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby (Sport D.K.)
Needles: US5 DPN
Finished Size: 3-5 lbs (circumference = 11")
Notes and Changes:
CO 56 sts. Work seed stitch pattern for 1". Knit until 4" from CO edge. Work decreases. Pull yarn through remaining stitches and secure. Top with a ribbon flower. Turn up edge to form cuff.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Touching Hearts

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The Preemie Project helps to support the Touching Hearts Program of The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. We provide bereavement items such as gowns, layettes, blankets and items of remembrance for grieving families. Not all of the volunteers are able to participate in this program because of the sadness it brings them--that is understandable. Some have even experienced this kind of loss first hand and though the desire to reach out to the grieving parents is there, the personal pain is just too great. If you talk to those that have lost an infant, you will find that the kindness of receiving a beautiful gown for their little one touches their heart in a special way. That is my prayer for this little gown.

Pattern: Little Sunshine Burial Gown from Heavenly Angels in Need
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby (Sport D.K.)
Needles: US 5
Finished Size: 3-5 lbs
Finished Measurements: Chest = 10" circumference, Length = 14" from neck to bottom edge.

This gown is open in the back for ease in dressing.

The pattern did not call for it, but I added a small ribbon at the neck to keep it closed.

When making the eyelet row, be sure to end with a YO. I didn't do this and ended up one stitch short. This was easily fixed by increasing one stitch.

The edges of this gown do not have a seed stitch or garter stitch border as some gowns do, therefore the edges curl. I do not see this a problem, but you do need to block the gown slightly to prevent excessive curling. I used steam.

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Added later:

The rose trim on this gown was purchased at Wal-Mart. It is sold by the spool. There was nothing on the package to indicate the amount of trim. It was probably about 1 yard. I think the price was less than $2.00. I found it where they sell the lace by the spool. The manufacturer is Model Crafts. It is sewn on by hand.

The small ribbon flowers were bought at Jo-Ann's. These are very inexpensive, I think something like 50 cents a package. This particular style came six to a package. The manufacturer is Offray. It is easy to hand sew these in place. I used one on the top of the hat, one on each bootie and one sewn on top of the rose trim on the front of the gown.

Using store bought embellishments is a quick and easy way to dress up a simple garmet and give it a special touch. You can find many choices in all fabric and craft centers. Options for boy's outfits are harder to find.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Blanket Factory

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This is the stack of cut flannel that awaited me on Friday. It's a lot, I know. I tend to get carried away when it comes to sewing blankets. Maybe I should open a blanket factory. Ten yards of fabric yielded sixteen small blankets--no large ones this time because I wanted to use every possible inch of fabric. The large size blankets result in some waste. I'll save my $1.00/yard fabric for that. And, of course the scrap fabric isn't really wasted, because I use it to make small stuffed animals. These are my favorite blankets for The Preemie Project so far. The front of each blanket is a print that I call "Bouncing Babies" and the back is a coordinating green stripe. I believe these blankets will be great for a boy or a girl and maybe that's why I like them so much. Here's a close up of the decorative top stitching. Image hosting by Photobucket
When I was sewing these blankets I kept thinking of a special woman mentioned in the Bible named Dorcas. She used her sewing talents to help people. If you are not familiar with this story, you can read it in Acts 9:36-43. What a good example she is to all of us.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor. Acts 9:36

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Booties With a New Look

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I found that a row of "nubbles", as described in the pattern for the Cupcake Hat, makes a nice embellishment to my favorite booties.

Pattern: Michelle's Booties
Size: 1-3lbs (3-5lbs, 6-8lbs)
Yarn: Sport D.K. (WW, WW)
Needle Size: US2 (US5, US7)
CO: 25 (25, 25)
(See Cupcake Hat pattern for how to Make Nubble)
What I Did:
Work garter stitch rows.
Work decreases.
Add a row of nubbles after the decreases, making a nubble every other stitch.
Work four rows of K1, P1 ribbing.
Bind off loosely and sew seams.
Note for ribbing: When I came to a stitch that contained a nubble, I purled on the wrong side and knit on the right side.

Now it's time to sew blankets for The Preemie Project. I spent several hours yesterday cutting out flannel. Today I expect to keep the sewing machine humming all day.